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Leading research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases
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Jeffrey I. Cohen, M.D.

Photo of Jeffrey I. Cohen 

Chief, Laboratory of Infectious Diseases

Chief, Medical Virology Section

Major Areas of Research

  • Pathogenesis of human virus infections in vitro and in vivo
  • Identification of cellular proteins that interact with herpesviruses
  • Development of vaccines against human herpesviruses
  • Identification of cellular mutations in patients with severe herpesvirus infections

Program Description

We study the molecular genetics, pathogenesis, and clinical aspects of human herpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The laboratory focuses on vaccine development, genes important for virus entry and replication, and identification of cellular mutations in patients with severe herpesvirus infections. Recent findings include development of candidate vaccines for HSV and rhesus EBV; identification of cellular genes that predispose to severe EBV infections; discovery of cells in the blood, other than B cells, that are infected by EBV; and a novel entry molecule for VZV into cells.

Clinical projects complement the laboratory studies. These include a Phase I study of a replication defective herpes simplex virus vaccine, studies of patients with severe virus infections to define genetic mutations or polymorphisms associated with the disease, studies of patients with EBV diseases, studies of immune responses in persons after vaccination with the smallpox or varicella vaccines, and attempts to identify novel viruses in patients with unexplained syndromes.


Dr. Cohen received his M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University and was a resident in medicine at Duke University. Following a medical staff fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he was a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard University. He returned to NIH, where he was the chief of the Medical Virology Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases until 2010. In June 2010, Dr. Cohen became chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases.


  • American Association of Physicians
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • Infectious Diseases Society of America
  • American Academy of Microbiology

Editorial Boards

  • Journal of Virology
  • Virology
  • Journal of Infectious Diseases
  • Virus Genes
  • Associate Editor Fields Virology

Research Group

Mir Ali, Wei Bu, Kennichi Dowdell, Lesia Dropulic, Rachel Godbout, Tammy Krogmann, Qingxue Li, Xueqiao Liu, Tomohiko Sadaoka, Sarah Valencia, Kenning Wang

Selected Publications

Klion AD, Mejia R, Cowen EW, Dowdell KC, Dunleavy K, Fahle GA, Holland-Thomas N, Maric I, Pittaluga S, Raffeld M, Santos C, Stetler-Stevenson M, Krogmann T, Shatzer AN, Turk SP, Yin Y, Xi L, Prussin C, Cohen JI. Chronic active Epstein-Barr virus infection: a novel cause of lymphocytic variant hypereosinophilic syndrome. Blood. 2013 Mar 21;121(12):2364-6.

Wang K, Kappel JD, Canders C, Davila WF, Sayre D, Chavez M, Pesnicak L, Cohen JI. A herpes simplex virus 2 glycoprotein D mutant generated by bacterial artificial chromosome mutagenesis is severely impaired for infecting neuronal cells and infects only Vero cells expressing exogenous HVEM. J Virol. 2012 Dec;86(23):12891-902.

Cohen JI, Fauci AS, Varmus H, Nabel GJ. Epstein-barr virus: an important vaccine target for cancer prevention. Sci Transl Med. 2011 Nov 2;3(107):107fs7.
Read the full article at Science Translational Medicine.

Sashihara J, Hoshino Y, Bowman JJ, Krogmann T, Burbelo PD, Coffield VM, Kamrud K, Cohen JI. Soluble rhesus lymphocryptovirus gp350 protects against infection and reduces viral loads in animals that become infected with virus after challenge. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Oct;7(10):e1002308.

Bowman JJ, Lacayo JC, Burbelo P, Fischer ER, Cohen JI. Rhesus and human cytomegalovirus glycoprotein L are required for infection and cell-to-cell spread of virus but cannot complement each other. J Virol. 2011 Mar;85(5):2089-99.

Li Q, Ali MA, Cohen JI. Insulin degrading enzyme is a cellular receptor for varicella-zoster virus infection and cell-to-cell spread. Cell. 2006 Oct 20;127(2):305-16.
Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.

Last Updated September 17, 2012